Breaking the Chains of Worry
Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)
Worrying is non-productive, burdensome and exhausting. But it is not easy to simply stop worrying and turn off anxiety like a faucet -- OH, wouldn't it be wonderful if we could!!!!! But for those who live with a serious or life-threatening illness, the tendency to worry and become anxious is especially problematic because worry and anxiety rob us of peace, exhaust us and undermine our ability to make good decisions.
Yet God is well aware of our human tendency to worry. Scattered throughout His Word, the Bible, we find warnings against worry and advice for dealing with anxiety. In Philippians 4, we find great instruction for breaking the chains of worry -- let's take a closer look ...
"Don’t worry about anything ..."
God doesn't suggest or encourage us not to worry -- He commands us not to worry! When we worry, we carry a burden God never intended for us to bear. No wonder we buckle under its weight!
When we worry, it's as if we are saying to God, "You really aren’t in control here. You may be able to keep the universe running, the stars shining and the planets spinning but You surely can’t handle my problem." The truth is we don't trust God.
"God’s children slander Him by worry and anxiety." Oswald Chambers
At the root of much of our worry and anxiety is unbelief. Our faith is anemic. We don't actually believe God will help us. Like the father of the demon-possessed boy in Mark 9:24, we come to God for help but we aren't sure He can help. The good news is, like this desperate father we can admit our unbelief. We, too, can cry out to God ...
I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief! Mark 9:24
How do we do battle with unbelief? How does our faith grow? One answer is found in Romans 10:17 ...
So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ. Romans 10:17 (NLT)
The more time we spend in the Scriptures, the more our faith is strengthened. Daily time in the Scriptures is one of the most effective tools for winning the war against worry. As we read about God's faithfulness to His people, learn about His attributes and character, see His power displayed time and time again, the Word of God -- "which is living and active" Hebrews 4:12 – begins to transform us from the inside out. Our faith grows and as it grows -- our worries subside.
Some worriers have a slightly different challenge. They readily believe that God is capable of handling their problems. Their problem with God is the secret belief that God may not love them enough to help them with their problem. They have no doubt that God is capable -- they are not sure that He is willing.
As one confessing worrywart shared, "While I know God is big enough to handle my problem, I sometimes question whether He really loves me enough to help. I wish I didn't question His love but it is the most difficult thing in the world to believe that an invisible God -- the God of all creation -- could love me."
When we question God's love for us we feel insecure, unworthy and abandoned. We then feel totally responsible for our well-being -- our future -- our problems. So we worry. We may know from 1 John 4:16 that "God is love." We may have memorized John 3:16 "For God so loved the world ..." but somehow that love has not touched our hearts. Although we know it intellectually, we aren't convinced in the depths of our soul that it is really true.
Like the father in Mark 9, we stand before God lacking, knowing that we need God's help to grasp what He is offering. Like that desperate man, we can echo his honest prayer and ask God to help us overcome our doubts about His love for us.
Our need to know of God's love is nothing new. Paul prayed that the Christians in Ephesus would grow in their knowledge of God's love. We can employ this prayer for ourselves as well. And we can be assured that our honest prayer for God to reveal His love to us will not go unanswered.
We pray this prayer with you and over you ...
Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God's love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Ephesians 3:17-19 (NLT)
On the journey with you,
Dave and Jan Dravecky
This devotional has been reprinted by permission of the author. It was originally printed for those signed up for weekly devotionals on http://www.endurance.org.